Ketil Bjørnstad / Guro Kleven Hagen – The Personal Gallery
A musical and subjective picture gallery, across time.
Ten years ago Kleven Hagen came in second place in the Eurovision Young Musicians contest by performing Tchaikovsy’s last movement of his violin concerto in front of the Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov, who at that time also played Tsjaikovskij. The next year Ketil heard Guro – now 17 years old – playing Tsjaikovskij again, but this time the whole concerto together with the Oslo Philharmonic.
– It became one of those concerts you’d just remember for life. Even the conductor, Jukka Pekka Saraste, was unmistakably touched, Ketil says.
Guro was also familiar with Ketils work as a writer, composer and pianist. She had just read «Oda!» and fallen in love with «Sommernatt ved fjorden» («Summer night by the fjord») when she contacted Ketil in 2016 to ask if he wanted to be a part of her festival, Valdres Sommersymfoni. Ketil accepted, and asked if he could compose something for her as well. – I was so happy when Ketil suggested that he could compose something for us. His melodies always touch me deeply, Guro says.
This is the foundation for what became The Personal Gallery.
– We didn’t know much about each other other than that we both loved Schubert. But that was more than enough to create this collaboration. And when she mentioned in a letter that she had a special relationship to «Sommernatt ved fjorden», I decided that I could go further with its melody, all with Schubert in mind, he explains.
Ketil explains how he suddenly got a picture of the bohemian princess Oda Krohg, who this song is about. How she could sit in Blom Bodega in the 1920s, as she had gotten old and could recount her own past. «Oda Krohg, 1927», a continuation of «Sommernatt ved Fjorden», was the beginning of the collaboration between Guro and Ketil. Suddenly it hit Ketil that Guro was the same age as he had been when he had written this song in 1978.
– The music on this album is, with very few exceptions, written shortly before being recorded, and as a regard to how Guro could take the compositions one step further and deepen them with her own timbral and melodic expression. A musical and subjective picture gallery, across time. The Personal Gallery, if you will; the pictures we have within ourselves at all times. The most important and personal ones, he says.
Ketil finishes by saying: – There is a 42 year old gap between us. I could be her grandfather. But I am the student.